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Phosphorus pentoxide, also known as phosphoric anhydride, is a white crystalline solid with molecular formula P4O10. It is the anhydride of orthophosphoric acid, H3PO4. It is prepared by burning elemental phosphorus in excess oxygen and purified by sublimation. Phosphorus pentoxide is a powerful desiccant and dehydrating agent, reacting violently with water to release heat and produce nontoxic orthophosphate. It is used as a condensing agent in organic reactions and as a laboratory reagent. It is an important component of the Onodera reagent, which is used in the oxidation of alcohols to nitriles and sulphuric acid. It is also used as an intermediate in the production of fertilisers.

It does not readily hydrate to form salts, but when moist it forms soft agglomerates which come apart under slight pressure. The compound is highly hygroscopic, and a small amount of moisture can lead to spontaneous self-ignition at temperatures above its autoignition temperature. It reacts vigorously with water to produce orthophosphate, and can be converted to H3PO4 by oxidative degradation.

It is soluble in acetone, ethanol and methyl chloride. It is a weak base and is attacked by many acids, especially nitric acid, sulphuric acid and dilute hydrochloric acid. It is also very pyrophoric and explodes when it comes into contact with metals such as iron and steel. It can be absorbed through the skin and mucous membranes, and may irritate them. It can corrode metals and plastics. It is a hazard to be kept away from combustible materials and enhances combustion of them, and it reacts violently with water to generate heat and emits irritating or toxic fumes or gases.

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